|Date of Birth||January 16, 1898|
|Place of Birth||Norman, Ontario|
|Next of Kin||Mrs Annie Wright, mother, Kenora, Ontario|
|Trade / Calling||Labourer|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Address at Enlistment||Kenora, Ontario|
|Date of Enlistment||August 9, 1915|
|Age at Enlistment||17|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||February 11, 1948|
|Age at Death||50|
|Buried At||Brookside Cemetery, Winnipeg, Manitoba|
William Alexander Wright was born on 16 January 1898 in the village of Norman a few kilometres west of Kenora in northwestern Ontario. His parents William Hamilton Wright and Annie Thompson were both from the Campbellton area in New Brunswick, marrying in November of 1882 in Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora.) While in Norman William Sr worked as a labourer, likely at a local sawmill. By the time of the 1901 census, along with Annie’s parents and some of her siblings, the family was living in the township of Ash Rapids on Lake of the Woods, with son James’ birth in 1902 registered at the nearby Mikado Mines. For the census William Sr was listed as a farmer while Annie’s father James as a miner. Moving back to Rat Portage, William worked as a teamster and later as a railway switchmen. Children born to the family were Myrtle (1893-1964), Emily Annabella (1895-1943), William, Robert Hamilton (1900-1978), James Lawrence (1902-1973), Margaret (Maggie) (1904-1936), Irene Alzada (Sadie) (1906-1971), Pearl Elizabeth (1910-1990), Charles Wesley (abt 1911-1969), and Agnes (1913-1984).
With occupation given as labourer (elsewhere in his record as railway brakeman) and his mother Annie in Kenora as next of kin, William signed his attestation papers on 9 August 1915 in Winnipeg. His date and place of birth was listed as 16 January 1896 in Kenora. Active Militia was given as 100th Winnipeg Grends and previous service as two years with the Kenora Volunteers. As a Private with the 78th Battalion, William arrived in England on 29 May 1916 aboard the Empress of Britain. In mid August he disembarked in France where the battalion fought as part of the 12th Brigade, 4th Canadian Division in France and Flanders until the armistice.
On 30 October 1917 William sustained shrapnel wounds to his shoulder and a gunshot wound to his heal. First admitted to the No 8 Canadian Field Ambulance, he was transferred to the No 24 General Hospital in Г‰taples on 1 November. Evacuated to England to the Exeter War Hospital on the 11th, William was moved through a series of convalescent and war hospitals as his shoulder and heel healed and other problems were dealt with (venereal warts). In mid November he returned to the 78th Battalion, proceeding back to England in early May of 1919. Returning to Canada, William was discharged from service on 13 July 1919 in Winnipeg. At the time his intended residence was given as Kenora.
Although underage, William’s brother Robert enlisted in December of 1915. Arriving in England with the 94th Battalion, he served overseas with the 16th Battalion before his age was discovered and he was returned to Canada.
On 28 March 1921, in Winnipeg, William married Laura Evelyn St Aubin. Born on 22 March 1902 in Winnipeg, Laura was the daughter of Zotique St Aubin and Marie Louise Gagnon. William and Laura were to make Winnipeg their home, giving birth to two children, Irene and Harold. Over the years William worked as a yardmaster for the Canadian National Railways. He was a member of the Fort Rouge Branch of the Canadian Legion and the Brotherhood of Railway Trainmen.
William died on 11 February 1948 at his home on Brandon Avenue in Winnipeg. At the time of his death he was survived by his wife Laura, daughter Irene Cumming, son Harold, siblings Myrtle (Robert) McLaughlin, Robert, James, Sadie (Victor) Harwood, Pearl (William) Kerr, and Agnes (Ralph) Gatehouse. He was predeceased by his mother Annie (1936) and father William (1944), siblings Margaret (Albert) Elders (1936), and Emily (James) Stewart (1944), all in Winnipeg. Williams’ wife Laura moved to the United States in the 1950’s, marrying Raymond Fleckles on 30 May 1959 in Chicago. After his death in 1975 she returned to Winnipeg and died on 7 January 1983 in the Misericordia Hospital. William and Laura are interred in Brookside Cemetery in Winnipeg.
By Judy Stockham